Caleb Plant found himself in a precarious position shortly after he stopped Vincent Feigenbutz in a homecoming fight in Nashville.
Boxing’s biggest bread winner in Canelo Alvarez and his promoter Golden Boy came calling seemingly seconds after Plant’s Feb. 15 fight for a super middleweight showdown. As tempting as the idea was for Plant (20-0, 12 KOs), the 27-year-old IBF champion eventually held his ground and passed because he needed to give his body time to rest before taking on a proposed May 2 fight, and ultimately, a quick turnaround.
“I just got out of the ring. I’m not going back into training camp. [Team Canelo] did that to Sergey Kovalev. For people to knock on me, they’ve never overtrained a day in their life. They don’t know what it’s like because they don’t work out,” said Plant. “I may have not taken any punishment in my last fight, but you have to let your body rest from all of the hard work you put in before that in training. That’s what’s more important … I want to fight Canelo. It’s almost positive he’s fighting Billy Joe Saunders in May, and in Japan after that. Who do you think he’s fighting in Japan? Me, or Ryota Murata? They’re hoping to get all of the sheep to follow them.
“I’m not Andy Ruiz, who’s not a world champion and is dieing to get his spot solidified and take a fight on short notice. I’m a world champion who’s defended my title twice. I’m a world class fighter, and that demands respect. The thing is, they haven’t even sent me an offer. That’s the most important part … A secondary guy reached out to a secondary guy I know. That’s not a legitimate offer.”
When Oscar De La Hoya heard of Plant’s comments, he responded by saying that Plant passed on the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I don’t understand what [Plant’s] talking about, short notice,” De La Hoya said. “The truth of the matter is that if you’re gonna not want to fight Canelo and we’re considering you, then it’s over, that’s it. It’s over. You will not have that opportunity ever again, because there’s so many champions out there, in his weight division — actually he can choose from three weight divisions … So if he’s saying ‘I’ll wait my turn,’ no, we’re telling you to fight him now — it’s the opportunity of your life … This is boxing, anything can happen but opportunities don’t come often. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and he’s passing it up! I’m sorry.”
In the meantime, Plant continues to call out fellow PBC fighter David Benavidez and feels that a unification fight with the WBC champion should be feasible for September.
“That’s the fight that I want,” said Plant. “We can definitely make that fight happen.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at email@example.com.